Pathfinder Adventure Path #97: In Hell's Bright Shadow (Hell's Rebels 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #97: In Hell's Bright Shadow (Hell's Rebels 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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The rebellion begins!

The city of Kintargo has long been a safe haven for artists, freethinkers, and those marginalized by the oppressive Chelish government, but now the city has been placed under martial law by inquisitor Barzillai Thrune. When a protest turns into a riot, a new group of heroes comes together to form an organized resistance against the devil-binding government and the church of Asmodeus—but can they survive long enough to establish allies? Or will they become the latest victims of the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path begins the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path and includes:

  • "In Hell's Bright Shadow," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A double-sized gazetteer of the freewheeling coastal city of Kintargo, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A plague doctor from Khari searching desperately for a cure in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Stephanie Lorée.
  • A collection of monsters both dangerous and beneficial, by Crystal Frasier, Eric Hindley, and Michael McCarthy.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-768-0

Bring your campaign to life!
The In Hell's Bright Shadow SoundPack from Syrinscape is a complete audio solution when playing through the first chapter of the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path.

"In Hell's Bright Shadow" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (723 kb zip/PDF).

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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A Solid Start

4/5

I just finished running my group through this and we had a good time.
Pros:
The rebellion sub system - This is the best subsystem yet IMO.
Interesting sandbox type missions.
A different type of AP that is a nice change of pace.

Cons:
Taking on the mantle of the Silver Ravens feels artificial.
The villains main goal is very odd.
Information between the players guide and this adventure is disjointed, some things are given away in the players guide that are supposed to be discovered in the adventure.

I would probably give this adventure 3 1/2 stars but I rounded up since the adventure is closer to 4 stars than 3.


This is how it's done.

5/5

What, only three reviews so far? For shame!

Perhaps because people are satisfied and trusting to that...

But I want to get on record here:

For a very long time, the Adventure Paths have been pretty good to great, but nothing really compared to the excellence I experienced in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Imagine my surprise when an AP that revisits a very similar idea- rebellion in an urban setting to throw off the shackles of an upstart despot- proved to be the first real contender to unseat CotCT from the top spot.

This first adventure manages to combine challenge, a bit of humor (outlawing mint? REALLY dude?), and a sense that the city of Kintargo is worth fighting for.

The campaign as a whole is brilliant, and this initial adventure does a great deal to lay out that groundwork. If you're not a subscriber, and you're just looking for a starting point to kick off a city-based rebellion campaign, this right here is the go-to option. I cannot recommend this one too highly.


A good first leg to an urban sandbox AP

5/5

(Preliminary note: Hell's Rebels is a series of urban sandbox adventures. Like most sandbox adventures, these adventures especially benefit from a DM who is willing (i) to tailor the adventure to the motivations and goals of the particular party, (ii) to allow players to be proactive, and to shape the adventure around their decisions, and (iii) to allow the party to try (and succeed at) dealing with problems in unexpected ways. So while these adventures run fine "out of the box", they work best with experienced and flexible DMs who are willing to put in a little extra work.)

We had a lot of fun with this adventure. There are lots of role-playing opportunities, and a fair number of opportunities for a "special ops"-style parties willing to use things like stealth, trickery, or diplomacy to work around potential combat situations.

Some of the things the players enjoyed most during this leg of the AP:

  • --Figuring out how to deal with the devious imp saboteur
  • --Carefully plotting how to free the slaves in the Prisoners of Salt
  • --Coming up with creative ways to bluff Chelish thugs (several times)
  • --An epic fight with Nox, Barzillai's devil-bound ally

Some tweaks we used to strengthen the narrative:

  • --Instead of having the urging of a low-level NPC (Rexus) be the main impetus for the party to start a rebellion, it felt more natural to have the players to build their characters so that they're proactively inclined to set up an active rebellion from the start.
  • --Instead of having the outline of what the party needs to do to successfully organize the rebellion ("The Five Steps of Revolution") be something that's handed to the players by a low-level NPC (Laria), it felt more natural to have this advice be something the party discovers in the Silver Ravens documents they recover from the Fair Fortune Livery.

Overall assessment: In Hell's Bright Shadow was a lot of fun. It wasn't quite as enthralling as the very best AP 1st legs (like Burnt Offerings or Smuggler's Shiv), but still a very good entry. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.


Recommend strongly

5/5

When I heard Paizo’s AP for the second half of 2015 was going to involve rebelling against House Thrune, I was very excited. So while I was predisposed to like it because of content, a year of excitement also had the potential for a substantial let down. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. I am not generally one to gush, but I really feel like there’s no other reaction I can have to Hell’s Rebels. After I read the first volume, I spent every month chomping at the bit for my next subscription order to ship so that I could read the next installment.

I have now run In Hell’s Bright Shadow, and it’s a great first level adventure to read and run---and play, judging by the reactions of my players. It has a mix of story, investigation, and dungeon crawls that make the first few levels feel like more than something to get through so you can be higher level. The humanoid NPCs are a little vanilla, but they make great allies for forming a rebellion. And if your players want a tiny, non-humanoid ally of either the good or evil persuasion, they will have that opportunity as well.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Kintargo gazetteer. Usually I find gazetteers kind of boring, but this one gave me tons of information I could use in my adventure. It helped me flesh out my players’ backstories so that they could feel involved in the city. As examples, I have a tengu who’s created a little cadre of tengu merchants on Bleakbridge, a professor at a secretive school for half-elf girls, and a member of the city dottari who’s trying to recruit some like-minded colleagues (while keeping her extracurricular activities secret from her boss).

I was dubious about the rebellion rules because I haven’t really enjoyed my experience with the kingdom building rules---too easy for one or two people to do everything while everyone else sits their twiddling their thumbs. The decisions in the rebellion actually allow for a lot of role-playing, though. I have had one player take charge of the system, but other people input what they want to be doing.

If you like urban adventures or have a long- (or short-) standing desire to take on house Thrune, Hell’s Rebels lives up to all expectations.


Let the Revolution Begin!

4/5

Overall, “In Hell’s Bright Shadow” is a solid start to this adventure path. My players had a fine time with it! Given the tighter focus of this AP make certain your PCs are primed to rebel, which can be accomplished, of course, by constructing appropriate backstories in addition to the requisite AP traits. Otherwise, taking on the mantle of the Silver Ravens can feel quite artificial. This is not the AP to shoehorn in the wandering so-and-so PC with no motivation or genuine attachment to the city.

The mission focus in the first half of the adventure makes it excellent for shorter episodic sessions. The villains are easy to hate (a good thing in this case) and the NPCs are instrumental yet never run the risk of overshadowing the players. Pinning down a certain invisible saboteur by mere chance provided my table much celebration. For any on the fence regarding the rebellion mechanic, I can only advise you to give it a chance and it will provide an added level of cogency to the arc. Players were delighted to see their insurrection grow.

My only quibble rests with the RP aspect of the adventure. As a campaign focused on RP, I did expect a bit more non-combat interactions written into the module. Well-developed NPCs, which the adventure does provide, do not guarantee roleplaying. Novel situations and dilemmas in which well-developed NPC and PCs interact hits the spot, of which this opening adventure could benefit more. Even so, GMs who put in a bit of side work can provide that extra spark. Understandably, page count is always a constraint when determining the composition of an adventure. So, for perfection, drop in a few extra set pieces into Part 1 and 2 that require players to think and speak rather than roll initiative.


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1 person marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?

IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cthulhudrew wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?
IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.

Interesting - first I've heard of them!

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The Cheliax Campaign Setting should be out in october - i hope.
By then the first half of "Hell´s Rebels" should also be available.
I wish the Campaign Settings would come out before the associated Adventure Paths to help GMs prepare additional background flavor...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

The Cheliax Campaign Setting should be out in october - i hope.

By then the first half of "Hell´s Rebels" should also be available.
I wish the Campaign Settings would come out before the associated Adventure Paths to help GMs prepare additional background flavor...

Most GMs (at least, myself and all GMs I play with) never run APs before they have all 6 parts, so that's not much of an issue.


I am looking forward to this! I hope that there will be more info on Cheliax and the hellknights.


Gorbacz wrote:
Most GMs (at least, myself and all GMs I play with) never run APs before they have all 6 parts, so that's not much of an issue.

This is true for me as well.

The Exchange

Mikaze wrote:


What does your paladin and rogue do when they see a helpless Asmodean lawyer about to get lynched by an angry mob? And what if that lawyer's family gets targeted next? Can you keep the passions of the people stoked against their oppressors without them boiling over in the worst ways possible? Can you get Kintargo out of the frying pan without condemning it to fire at your own people's hands? Will there be people from Andoran and Galt coming in to sway the nature of the struggle one way or another?

This is looking to be a very complex AP, morally, ethically, socially, and politically.

That is if it is done well! What evidence do we have that this will be true?

The Exchange

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I read "A People's Tragedy" about a year ago and there are a large number of themes and ideas that can be culled from this book. One area that I hope that the story arc covers is how revolutions can easily go very wrong. The good guys are not the only ones who are going to be working to overthrow the Thrune dynasty.

Revolutions are very dangerous events that can quickly spin out of control of those who initiated it. One area that is made clear in A People's Tragedy is that the Bolsheviks really didn't represent the will of the people. It was a small cabal that managed to usurp the revolution for their own purposes.

Whenever I think about revolutions I cannot help but think of Saturn Devouring his Son.

This adventure path has a great deal of potential. I hope it is executed well.

Dark Archive

Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

That will probably happen in Hell's Vengeance.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)

Nope. This AP is all about FIGHTING House Thrune. The next AP is the one you want to fight for them.

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Alexandra Pitchford wrote:
Hmm, will we be able to fight FOR House Thrune? I'd like that option ;)
Nope. This AP is all about FIGHTING House Thrune. The next AP is the one you want to fight for them.

I personally think this is genius!


Who are the iconics?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Nick O'Connell wrote:
Who are the iconics?

Lem, Merisiel, Kyra, and Valeros.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you once again you our always reliable;) also I'm glad Lem comes back finally.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Watch it Thrunies; I'm coming to get you!


Will it be a similar $2 bump in price for just the PDF? I understand that this is due to the increased amount of content for this AP, and just want to get the budget ready for it (not that it's a huge adjustment). Thanks!

Dark Archive

We should get the final description and cover art this month. :-)
The one for the AP installment before got updated on 6th of june, so with some luck maybe tomorrow. ;-)

Dark Archive

So when do we get to know the iconics for Hell's Vengeance?
My guesses are: Seltiyel the Magus, Damiel the Alchemist, Old What's His Face the Anti-Paladin/Evil Seelah, and Alain the Cavalier.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

So when do we get to know the iconics for Hell's Vengeance?

My guesses are: Seltiyel the Magus, Damiel the Alchemist, Old What's His Face the Anti-Paladin/Evil Seelah, and Alain the Cavalier.

No iconics... no Seltyiel. :(

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.

Also, the antipaladin is not an iconic. I know... I'm sad too. ^_^

Dark Archive

But I like Old What's His Face; and Seltyiel! (;-;)

Six new evil characters has got my hopes up now.

Maybe, just maybe, Sajan's sister will be one of them!


DeciusNero wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Wonder if we'll get some more on Hellknights - namely, some of the lesser orders (Scar, Pike)?
IIRC, the Order of the Torrent is set to play a big role in this AP.
Interesting - first I've heard of them!

Is this the Hellknight Order that House Thrune uses to crack down on illegal spell copying?

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:

....

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.
....
Also, the antipaladin is not an iconic. I know... I'm sad too. ^_^

But aren't you excited to see these new devious bastards? ;)

(And thanks for always being there to help with good answers like the ever-present antipaladin iconic status.)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I'm super excited for these new characters!

I'm just also super excited every time Seltyiel appears. Hopefully someone will take up the wonderful bishonen flag in his absence. ^_^

You're welcome - happy to help!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:

....

Instead, six all-new characters are coming for Hell's Vengeance.

But aren't you excited to see these new devious bastards? ;)

I'm sure excited to see six new non-good (if not necessarily evil, since you don't have to be evil to prefer the current Chelish situation to the lawless bloodshed going on in Galt!) not-really-Iconics!

Lem the Halfling wrote:
Watch it Thrunies; I'm coming to get you!

Woo, go Lem! Great to see the Iconic with the most built-in ties to the Chelish situation (IIRC...) make an appearance!

Dark Archive

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Set wrote:
I'm sure excited to see six new non-good (if not necessarily evil, since you don't have to be evil to prefer the current Chelish situation to the lawless bloodshed going on in Galt!) not-really-Iconics!

Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that they are pushing this as the Evil AP, not the Non-Good AP, and therefore the iconics will indeed be Evil. After all, if Neutral was good enough, they could just use the many existing iconics. The whole point of this thing is to go whole hog Evil.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

For some reason, they've repeatedly denied his iconicity. (It's a word now.)

It's not because of the alternate class - see Reiko.

It's not because he's evil - see Seltyiel...

And Mythic Seltyiel...

...

What were we talking about?

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Crispy Gnoll Fajitas wrote:

I didn't know we could say bastards, otherwise I would've said almost exactly what you did! (#_#)

And why isn't Good Old What's His Face Iconic? (I kind of thought he wasn't, but was in denial or de'Osirian or something something uh.)

Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once). They need to fit into a few categories: Iconics need to be base classes, illustrated by Wayne Reynolds, have a backstory on our blog, and serve as visual placeholders for the heroes that everyone brings to the game as their characters.

These new characters won't fit all of those roles, and are more akin to quasi-iconics because of that.

... But I'm getting off topic talking about this in the product thread for the first volume of the Adventure Path that doesn't present these characters.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

My last word on that:

I shall expect a WAR art piece and a blog entry for the original alternate class.

Make it happen. ^_^

Dark Archive

Adam Daigle wrote:
Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once).

Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!

And yeah, if it was just 'appeared in the art / on covers a lot,' I suspect that Ameiko would way outrank Reiko and Hayato as 'Iconic.' :)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Set wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Our iconics are not just folks we've represented in art a few times (like the antipaladin and a couple of tiefling ladies from a few Player Companions and maybe an assimar we've shown more than once).

Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!

And yeah, if it was just 'appeared in the art / on covers a lot,' I suspect that Ameiko would way outrank Reiko and Hayato as 'Iconic.' :)

Aram the Golden-Heart. ^_^

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Set wrote:
Ooh, that aasimar 'paladin in hell' with the halo definitely is a favorite, as well, even if he isn't Iconic!
Aram the Golden-Heart. ^_^

Ooh! He has a name? Cool!

I may not love there being an aasimar/tiefling/skinwalker/dhampir for every stat optimization, instead of the old D&D/Forgotten Realms standby of an elf/dwarf/halfling for every stat optimization, but Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends had some *glorious* character art, and really made me want to know more about some of them (like stag-horned dude with blackened oracle curse or tiefling cleric of Sarenrae).

As is typical for me, I like the less-Iconic folk anyway, like Naull, from 3.X, so I'll probably be a big fan of the new six 'quasi-Iconics' for the Thrunie AP.

Dark Archive

Back on topic, (and not half-asleep) What the literal Hell is keeping Thrune from not gating in a relatively powerful devil, like a particularly nasty Lemure to ROFLstomp the PC'S?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hubris

Silver Crusade

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Article 663 section 3 subsection b of the contract states, that in order to to apply for CR 20+ help against threats of mortal nature, the current reigning monarch of Cheliax must fill the application form DZ45/489/IV, present it personally at the Gates of Hell and await for a minimum of 66 days until the preliminary phase of application is processed. The deadline may be extended at will. The price for such services is...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Quick Conjugation Question: Shouldn't the phrase in the description be "Chellish government"? I know there's tons of hubbub over this elsewhere on the forums, but I could have sworn "Chelaxian" only referred to a citizen of Cheliax or person with ancestry indicative of having come from Cheliax.

I'd always internally justified it as "Chelaxian's the longer word, and it's a nation based on a sinful amount of pride so of course they would go with the longer word when referring to themselves."


I so wish they would update the cover art already......


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

The show must go on! And it's not over until Delour sings!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If I run this, Fredrico Castrovel (shameless Wayfinder promotion) will definitely make an appearance!

Ruyan.


James Jacobs wrote:
Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Wow, you answered twice in two different threads and with additional info! Yippee! Thank you so much yet again.

And, as Set said, the show indeed MUST go on! Save Kintargo!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Fourshadow wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Fourshadow wrote:
So which of this Adventure Path will detail Kintargo's Opera House? I love that bardic college I first saw in Inner Sea Magic and would love greater detail.

Part 3 has the most of it, but there are bits and pieces about the Opera House in part 1 and part 4 as well.

That said, it doesn't build upon the information given in Inner Sea Magic for the opera as a guild at all—in fact, the situation in the Kintargo Opera House for the first half of Hell's Rebels pretty much results in that guild being shut down. Hopefully some heroic PCs can help fix that!

Wow, you answered twice in two different threads and with additional info! Yippee! Thank you so much yet again.

And, as Set said, the show indeed MUST go on! Save Kintargo!

Indeed.

DOWN WITH THRUNE!!!

Community & Digital Content Director

Final product image and description are up!


Ooh, the new Adventure Path logo is really neat looking. As is the rest of the cover, of course, but that's to be expected. I'm a little surprised the color scheme is blue this time, but I'll be damned (heh) if it doesn't work.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like that shade of blue and the 'shattered' cover!


WOOO HOOOO!!!!

Ahem.

down with thrune


I see that it has some beneficial monsters, you got interest now.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Double-sized gazetteer...Crystal Frasier...

sold

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